Ed Holzman is thankful for his 99 year old caretaker

Ed Holzman is thankful for his 99 year old caretaker
By Fran Thompson
Ed Holzman had a thing for beautiful women in crisp white blouses.
Or at least he did for one particular woman who donned such tops during her shifts at an Ann Arbor plant that manufactured diesel engine speed governors.
Her name was Edna Bowles, and Ed was smitten the first time he set eyes on her back in 1975.
“You should have seen her when she was young and trim. She was something,’’ Ed said. “She is still good looking, and she still has to convince people how old she is. Nobody believes it.
“But you should’ve seen the shape on her then,’’ he added. “She always wore a crisp white blouse. She did not dress like all the other factory workers. She always looked so damn nice.
“When her boss told me she had her eyes set for me, I started thinking it might work out for me, and eventually it did.’’
When the sparks first flew, Ed had just turned 40 and was coming off a divorce. Edna was 53 by then.
But Edna looked exactly like the picture she passed to a reporter (Page 18) that was taken when she was 22, according to Ed,
“You’ve seen a picture of what she looked like. So, you know what I am talking about,’’ he said.
For her part, Edna said she did like fashion and dressing in nice clothes.
“That blouse is the only thing he could remember, I guess,’’ she said. “I did wear other clothes. He keeps gong back to when he met me.’’
One of seven children raised on a Kentucky tobacco farm with six siblings, Edna was an independent and hardworking woman who first came to Michigan to find work with other family members.
She toiled at several jobs before World War II and then worked running a crane at the famed Willow Run B-24 Liberator Bomber Plant in Ysplanti. Yes. She was one of the official Rosie The Riveters. (See page 18 story.)
Like Ed, Edna was once divorced. She had lost her second husband to cancer when he was 42. And she was raising three children, including a daughter (Pamela) with cerebral palsy, while working full-time.
The attraction was mutual, as were their interests. They both liked golf, bowling and boating.
There was that age difference. But it bothered neither, and Ed had always liked older women anyway. He still does. They’ve been together ever since.
Ed turns 86 this month and Edna will be 99 on August 13.And their age difference has never been an issue. In fact, Ed said the way he sees it, the discrepancy has been shrinking since they met.
“Percentage-wise, I am catching up to her in how far apart we are in age,’’ he said. “It’s the strangest phenomenom. But it’s true. There has been nobody since I met her that has come even close.’’
Edna is also Ed’s caretaker, since Ed’s poor eyesight prevents him from driving anymore.
“That is in my prayers. I say, ‘Lord you got this wrong. I should be taking care of her,’’’ Ed said. “She’s been taking care of me since I was 40 and she still is.’’
Although Ed was laid off, Edna was offered the chance to transfer to Huntsville when Chrysler moved operations in her factory south.
She did not go. She had already accrued her retirement and caring for her daughter in Michigan rather then Alabama made sense. Ed did take a Chrysler position in Rocket City two years later.
“I was afraid the people (in Huntsville) would run me out of town,’’ Edna said. “They didn’t want any of us to come down there when they moved the plant. I just said, ‘No, I think I’ll stay here.’’’
The couple has lived sometimes together and most often in their own homes in Huntsville, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Foley, Hot Springs, Arkansas and El Paso, Texas. They’ve also traveled together extensively.
They enjoy each other’s company except when they don’t.
“Oh gosh, we battle,’’ Edna said. “You gotta’ fight a little bit.’’
“There’s an easy way to solve any argument,’’ Ed added. “She is never wrong. Sometimes we fight and I get the silent treatment. But eventually we have a joke and clown around.’’
Edna and Ed both said they enjoyed spending time at Edna’s condo at Wind Drift in Orange Beach when she bought it on a whim back in the early 1990’s. Pleasure Island was less crowded then and they became friends with almost all of the other owners.
The couple especially liked to go and drink and dance with their friends at Papa Rocco’s.
“I loved to dance. I used to do the jitterbug,’’ Edna said. “If you can do the jitterbug, you can dance most anything.’’
These days, couple mostly watches the sports they used to play on TV. But they are still enjoying life.
“I miss it all,’’ Edna said. “I loved to bowl and golf and all that good stuff. I loved to ride a bike and do all of it.
“I was still playing golf at 72. But it got to where I was not able to do it, especially in the summer. What are you going to do?”
In her case, she is going to enjoy each day, which usually starts with a two mile drive over to Ed’s each morning. Having their own homes has been a living arrangement that has always work for both of them.
They have discussed marriage, but they are not sending out wedding invitations anytime soon.
“He had a ring for awhile, but I got tired of waiting,’’ Edna said. “Now I don’t care.
“I have been through quite a few situations and I have done a lot of things,’’ she added. “I have not got my cane out yet. I have got one in case I need it. But I’m still Ok. I have a few years left.”
Pictured: Edna and Ed wore these t-shirts specifically for the Mullet Wrapper picture we shot at Edna’s home on Juniper St. in Foley. Ed’s shirt says, “Being Cremated Is My Last Hope For A Smoking Hot Body.’’ Ed said he bought Edna the shirt she is wearing and people stop to take phone pictures of her whenever she wears it. It reads: “A woman needs only four animals in her life. A mink on her back. A jaguar in the garage. A tiger in bed. And a jackass to pay for it all.’’